Legion is known for its high concepts and absurdly beautiful visuals as well as strong character work and its ability to resonate real emotion in a world that is as conceptually insane as David’s mind. That’s part of the draw. That this world that these characters live in and that we constantly visit to help us question mortality and perception is all a projection of our main character. In a lot of ways, this is the world he created either by choice or by accident. And for the most part, it has worked on the highest levels. Legion may not get the awards love that it deserves but you’ll be hard pressed to find a viewer of the show who doesn’t understand that what they’re watching is so ahead of anything else on television. In that regard, it reminds me a lot of Hannibal another show that wasn’t nearly as appreciated as much as it should have been. Yet with all this praise and all this artistic flourishment, last night’s episode kind of got lost in the absurdity a bit too much. There needs to be a balance and “Chapter 21” buried a number of important character moments underneath wild references to Charlie Brown and Alice In Wonderland.
That’s not to say that this was a poor episode, I don’t think it’s possible for Legion to produce a subpar episode. Things here were a bit more unfocused then we’re usually accustomed to though. Typical Legion episodes that seem to be throwing an endless pile of cacophony at its viewer, if you look hard enough you can peel away the layers and find a through line. “Chapter 21” seemed like it wanted to bury that through line and have us focus more on the trippiness or the random mirror dances. Perhaps that’s the point here. Maybe the show wants us to miss out on what was transpiring because the emotions were too real? But Legion has never shied away from emotions in the past. I think what we had here was an episode that got lost down the rabbit hole, only to pull itself out in time for the end.
Even with the seemingly endless visuals of pig nipples spouting drugs or tea parties or people stepping out of mirrors, there was substance to be found here. David’s quest to travel back in time, seemingly to fix his wrongs, continues but not without a hitch. It seems that Switch’s abilities are limited only to herself. She’s not strong enough to bring David with her in the time travel hallway and that’s problematic. It would be safe to assume that David wants to go back far enough in time where he stops himself from sexually assaulting Syd, but I think that’s a misdirect. David has always been a tragic character, and I can see him wanting to do something a little more drastic. How many times have you heard time travel stories presenting the idea of going back in time and killing Hitler as a child? Avengers Endgame even brought up the concept concerning baby Thanos. Is it within the realm of possibility that David would want to go back to the beginning and take himself out before he can grow old? Before he can hurt Syd or destroy the world as we know it? Would that be enough to redeem him in our eyes? Because we’ll be the only eyes that remember. The timeline will change and if this is what David wants, then maybe this creates a conflicting timeline where Farouk takes over the world. Maybe that leads to pulling a non-corrupt David from a different timeline to battle the Shadow King. This is an X-Men story after all and if there wasn’t crazy timey wimey stuff then we’d just be getting cheated.
All that is getting ahead of ourselves. David cannot enter the time travel hallway way so he devises a plan that draws in Division 3 so he can kidnap scientist Cary (not sword carrying Kerry) to help him expand Switch’s abilities. Cary seems to be a hard sell but after some introspection and mind manipulation, it appears that he’s on board to save the world. This is a massive win for David as his plans for time travel become more of a reality. For now, anyway.
Syd is determined to get hers and her conversation with Farouk is believable to a degree. It’s possible that her pursuit of David isn’t solely out of revenge but she’s naïve if she doesn’t believe it plays a part. The conversation between David and her was the most surprising aspect of this episode as I figured they would be kept apart as long as possible to build the tension further. One thing that became abundantly clear through their conversation is just how detached from reality David is. The fact that he can’t comprehend that his actions were not only wrong and disgusting but hurtful and betraying. His counter-argument to Syd throwing it all on the table is that he would have done things differently… by erasing her mind again so she wouldn’t even know. David is a firm believer that ignorance is bliss and for how emotional he is it becomes more and more clear that he has no clue how to actually relate to emotions. Until he does he will continue to be the villain of this season even if he doesn’t understand why he can’t just have his cult filled with girls with daddy issues and manipulate their thoughts and surroundings to follow his dream. The Cult of David Haller is real even if David Haller himself doesn’t see it.
Oh, be sure to keep your eye on Lenny too. I don’t think she enjoys being second fiddle to Switch and whenever she starts to get upset David just alters her mind. We saw how well that worked for him with Syd…
What did you think Geeklings, was “Chapter 21” a bit much or was it more of the same from Legion? How far back do you think David wants to time travel? Can Cary actually help expand Switch’s powers? Sound off in the comments with any thoughts or theories. If you’d like to talk more Legion with yours truly you can find me over on Twitter @iamgeek32. Always up for a good mind melting conversation. I’ll be back here next week with another episode review, in the meantime, question everything and stay away from any mist coming out of a pig.